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of maryland medical system. the son of immigrants from cuba who made sacrifices for their children's education, rodriguez studied hard. he has specialties in plastic and reconstructive surgery, cranial facial surgery, oral surgery, as well as microsurgery, which meant he was uniquely qualified to treat richard's injuries. >> when you're missing the upper and lower lip, it's a very difficult area to recreate. so we could have done surgery on him forever. he never would have looked normal or would have functioned normal. >> reporter: dr. rodriguez realized what richard needed was something that had never been done before, a full face transplant. the doctor had heard about the first partial face transplant carried out in france in 2005. and at the same time, the department of defense was funding research to advance the treatment of severely injured u.s. troops returning from the wars in afghanistan and iraq. rodriguez secured that research funding which would be used to treat richard. what was it about richard's injuries that made him perfect for trying to create the kind of science needed? >> th
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